Friday, September 26, 2008

scary celebrity obsessions

so the "news" finally broke yesterday that clay aiken is gay. was anyone really surprised? i think it's great that he can be open about who he is and not live a life in hiding. i greatly respect his thought process about raising his son:
"It was the first decision I made as a father," Aiken told the magazine, which arrives on newsstands Friday. "I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn't raised that way, and I'm not going to raise a child to do that."
it takes a lot of courage to be a single parent, especially as a gay man. clay seems to have many people around him who care deeply about him, to support him, and to support his son.

okay...enough about clay. i was reading an associated press article where they were discussing the reactions of clay aiken fans - "claymates." wow...some crazy responses that i find scary, truly sublime, dumb, and somewhat ridiculous. i feel bad for people who have such little excitement in their lives that their worlds begin to revolve around celebrities. for example:
"This is really shocking news as I had no idea he was gay," read a comment posted by "Sheridansq." "And now I have to deal with this. I am not sure what to say to people who know I was a fan. ... I didn't go to work today and am not answering the telephone."
really? not answering the phone for fear of ridicule for someone you don't even know personally being gay? Lord help us! ~aroll

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

home sweet urban home

ah, how good it feels to be back home in san diego. i had a great time at my reunion, catching up with old friends, laughing and reminiscing, seeing family and friends in okc, but i am very glad to be home.

while back in okc i had a bit of culture shock. not the culture shock you would assume coming from the west coast back to middle america. it was actually socio-economic culture shock. i went to a small independent private school in suburban oklahoma city. the vast majority of students who attend there come from wealthy families. (on a side note it was interesting to see how much more money has poured into that school since i left.) my family didn't have a ton of money...we were comfortable, and my parents did a lot to be able to provide for me and allow me to do a lot of the things i wanted to do, but we certainly didn't have the same money that most of my classmates did. my mom was a teacher at my school, so that helped with our tuition significantly. regardless, i was around and in a pretty upper class, white, suburban world.

fast forward 10 years to me living in a neighborhood under redevelopment frequented by police cars and helicopters, with bars on the windows, cool local coffee shops and the constant parade of homeless people. i've been in this neighborhood 1.5 years, and i love it. it's home. i am lower middle class, living paycheck to paycheck and rarely need to go more than a mile from my house, walking to church, riding my bike to the office, walking to the grocery store and countless new local restaurants and bars. going back to okc was weird. i've been back for holidays, but something was different. i was at a luncheon at the home of the parents of a former classmate with their 5,000 square foot home on the lake eating lunch under a tent on their tennis court. it's a gorgeous home owned and opened up to us by a wonderful family...but it was so foreign. please hear me - this is not an indictment on white suburbia. if i had stayed in oklahoma, there is a strong likelihood i would still be in that world. but now i'm not, and it felt much safer, in a weird way, to be driving back into my far more urban neighborhood as jay drove me home from the airport on monday. it's not the world in which i grew up, but it's now normal to me...home sweet urban home. ~aroll

Monday, September 22, 2008

reunion playlist highlights

so in my last post, i promised a highlight list of some of the songs i have on the playlist i created for my 10-yr high school reunion last weekend. i pulled together songs that were significant to us as a class and popular at the time. in no particular order, some highlights are:

i'll be - edwin mcccain
all for you - sister hazel
closing time - semisonic
bittersweet symphony - the verve
good riddance - greenday
how's it going to be - third eye blind
too legit to quit - mc hammer
you learn - alanis morissette
one week - barenaked ladies
a long december - counting crows
champagne supernova - oasis
everybody (backstreet's back) - backstreet boys
the freshman - verve pipe
so much to say - dave matthews band
friends - michael w. smith
angel - sarah mclachlan
one headlight - the wallflowers
i've got friends in low places - garth brooks

it was a fun trip down memory lane putting the whole playlist many songs i had forgotten about!! it's fun and scary to listen to. ~aroll

Friday, September 19, 2008

back in oklahoma

well, i arrived late last night back in oklahoma city for my 10-year high school reunion. i can't believe it has been 10 years since i graduated high school. i am actually looking forward to seeing people. i have only kept in touch with my friend lance cook who was my best friend in high school, so i think it's going to be fun to see how people have changed (or haven't), hear what people are doing, etc. my graduating class was 65 people, and of those 65, 37 of us were together since the first grade - a group known as the "lifers." of the lifers, i think something like 25 of us had been together since preschool. crazy, eh? needless to say no one really dated within our class as it would have been like dating your brother or your sister.

reunion festivities begin tonight with a dinner before the football game (which we are favored to win 33-14 over davis), cocktail party tonight, picnic tomorrow afternoon, then party tomorrow night at a hotel downtown. i'll keep the blog updated with any crazy stories. oh, and i'm putting together a playlist of music from my high school days. i'll post some highlights of that playlist in another entry.

on a somewhat unrelated note, i was just outside on the phone with my high school youth pastor (who i hope will still be the best man at my wedding) and saw a row of "mccain/palin" yard signs...i truly am back in oklahoma. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"a change will do you good..."

well, in the immortal words of sheryl crow, "a change will do you good." i have been waiting to post this bit of news until it had been officially announced. starting monday, september 22, i will be full time at missiongathering as the pastor of connection and spiritual formation! i have resigned my full time position at west elm, but i will be staying on in a casual role there working one day a week or so. while i have learned a lot in retail management and the world of sales, it's not who i am wired to be.

i have known since i was in high school that i wanted to be in ministry. while in college i served as the junior high intern then as the junior high director at asbury united methodist church in tulsa, oklahoma. i then moved to san diego to be the middle school pastor at journey community church. after 3 years there and volunteer hours at the national youth workers convention, i joined the staff of youth specialties to help train and encourage youth pastors. my journey into retail began when zondervan bought ys and my job was downsized. thankfully in the midst of these and some other circumstances, i had found missiongathering - a community of faith where, on my first sunday there, i felt like i was home.

i have been playing in the band at mission for two years and have been on part-time staff for a year as part of the teaching team, helping with programming and production, and coordinating special events. now that i am full time, i will be overseeing leadership development (we're growing and can't afford to have the staff driving everything), spiritual formation (small groups, retreats, spiritual direction, spiritual growth), community connections (connecting people within mission and connecting mission to the community), and providing some structure to new ministries and programs within mission. we are growing in some great ways at missiongathering, but boy do i have my work cut out for me. regardless, though, i am very excited to be serving my church in this way and am excited about being able to wake up looking forward to going to work.

so there we go...a new adventure ahead...more to come, i'm sure. ~aroll

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

a 12-mile walk...

imagine having to walk 6 miles one-way to get water or get to school. imagine having to walk 6 miles back home. this is the plight of thousands of women and children in zambia, africa. in a country ravaged by poverty and disease and the AIDS pandemic, education, clean water and sanitation are keys to growth and survival.

this saturday, september 13 is the second-annual walktheirwalk walk-a-thon to raise money for the region of twachiyanda, zambia. last year the walk raised over $27,000 to complete the building of a school, with 125 walkers participating. this year we are already at 250+ registered with a goal to build 2 fresh-water wells and a latrine. for more information, to donate, or to register visit

if you're a praying person, please pray for safety, good weather, enthusiasm, still more walkers, and that the event and the money raised will change the hearts of students and people here in the united states and change lives for the better in zambia. ~aroll

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sermon Notes

So those of you who are waiting on my sermon notes from my message on Paul's Letters and Homosexuality, they are coming. I have to rework them so that they make sense for normal readers. Also, the podcast is going to take a little while. Our sound guy accidentally erased the recording of my sermon while trying to save it. I will be redoing the sermon in the office just for the sake of having a recording. It will still likely be a couple of weeks before it is up. Thanks for your patience. If you have any questions in the meantime, email me at ~aroll